Federal Bytes

'MELISSA' INFILTRATES DOD. When the "Melissa" virus began assaulting computers nationwide last month, we at Federal Computer Week jumped into action, launching phone calls into the newly formed Defense Department Joint Task Force for Computer Network Defense. Imagine our surprise, however, when the JTF - as it is known - public affairs point of contact answered the phone to the name "Melissa." Our first thought was, "Now that's a virus that knows a thing or two about morphing and self-preservation."

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GORE CLEANS UP HIS WEB SITE. According to recent reports, Vice President Al Gore was forced to remove a new feature on his re-election campaign World Wide Web site that asked children for feedback, including asking the children to provide personal information on themselves. Ironically, such Web activity is about to become illegal under legislation signed into law by President Clinton.

You would think that the guy who invented the Internet would know something about online restrictions.

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NOT LEGIT. Speaking of the guy who invented the Internet, Vinton Cerf, president of the Internet Society and senior vice president of Internet architecture and technology at MCI WorldCom, is the man the IT community likes to call the "Father of the Internet." Of course, that title was questioned when Gore told CNN in an interview last month that he "took the initiative and created the Internet."

With that in mind, an attendee of last week's Computers, Freedom & Privacy Conference facetiously asked Cerf to comment on reports that he created Gore.

Cerf demurred, kind of. "I never comment on my illegitimate children," he said.

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NEGATIVE CAMPAIGN SOLUTIONS. While the Internet has yet to prove itself as an effective tool for campaigning on behalf of a politician, some folks believe it's extremely effective for campaigning against a politician. The people at Hockaday Donatelli Campaign Solutions, who describe their company as "a premier campaign Web site developer," this month unveiled their www.hillaryno.com site dedicated to defeating the first lady's purported plans to run for a Senate seat in New York.

Never mind that Hillary Rodham Clinton has not yet even thrown her hat into the ring. Or that the Web site's support for the campaign of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani seems almost an afterthought - mainly evidenced by a link soliciting donations for Giuliani's campaign. (The small print at the bottom of each page notes that the site is paid for by "Friends of Giuliani.")

Tom Hockaday, president of Campaign Solutions, said the site has been extremely popular, attracting "Victoria's Secret runway show-type traffic." The analogy seems odd; we thought he would have called it "Starr report-type traffic."

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MONEY TALKS; WALLETS BEEP. Now that federal employees are using credit cards more than ever, they may want to check out a new product from Kopel Inc., Westlake, Calif. The company has marketed what it calls "the first patented electronic wallet" that beeps every 20 seconds after the user removes a credit card. It is marketed as a foolproof remedy for those who habitually leave their credit cards behind at stores and restaurants.

The new product certainly has the potential to help keep government charge cards out of the hands of unauthorized users. That may not be one of the hot spots of government waste, fraud and abuse, but every little bit helps.

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